This was a howlingly bad book. First off, there are so many historical and grammatical inaccuracies, it was painful to read. There is no excuse for such shabby editing in this day and age with spellcheckers etc, and an editor who should have a degree in English.
Second of all, the hero was an idiot and she was not much better. The whole predicament she finds herself in is worthy of farce, not romance.
The sinister undertones were never developed, and Belinda goes from being skittish of Robert to orally pleasuring him at the drop of a hat almost as soon as they meet. This from a woman who was supposed to have been a virgin who was brutally raped. who decides to solve the problem by becoming a high-priced courtesan. If she was happy selling oranges to earn a decent living so she would not have to compromise her virtue, this transition is ridiculous.
The hero going off and practically killing her rapist with a steel pipe and stuffing him on a prison hulk to Australia, thus acting as judge, jury and executioner, is not endearing either. He is a prude, full of barely suppressed violence, and their first 'love scene' together on the dining room able is absurd and gross on every level given her history and that fact that he is supposed to be a Paragon.
He is cruel, judgemental, hypocritical. Instructing his own sister to ignore his mistress in public is just awful. his political standpoint is equally terrible. He is a repressive Tory with a small social conscience but is so worried about what other people think of him he allows himself to always be led into doing things which are basically against humanity. You would think at the age of 35 he might be able to get over what his Daddy and other people think of him, but he would rather placate the tabbies of the Town than be kind to Bel. Would be willing to go through an arranged marriage to get political power, and still expect Bel to stay with him as though nothing had changed, even knowing she refuses to take any married lovers. He doesn't ever love her for herself, but who he wants her to be in relation to all HIS needs.
Our heroine Bel is so inconsistent she then starts calling him darling and lavishing every endearment upon him the minute she goes into the house to live with him. The ending with the arranged marriage and the white horse is so trite and unbelievable I wanted to throw this book against the wall. She is a doormat for every man she comes across and all the lessons in how to be a successful courtesan are pretty useless to her, and in a barbaric group of people who have no respect for women. The Regency period was no great, but it wasn't THAT bad either!
The worst offence of all though is that she is supposed to be writing a Regency, but all the dialgoue is modern: when the couple kisses and practical copulates in the Vauxhall Gardens, all the bucks shout "Get a room!" Really, get a history book.
This is the second of her novels I have read, after Lady of Desire, which was deathly dull and featured Jacinda from this book. All I can say is, if you are really scraping the bottom of the barrel for something flat and boring to read, then you will like this book.